Monday, January 6, 2014

Is Jamie Dixon building a power?

A look at the underclassmen and incoming recruits for the Pitt Panthers basketball team:

James Robinson, So.-  Solidly built 6'3" 200 pound point guard.  One of the best assist to turnover ratios in the country in both of his seasons.  Last year he had a 2.8 assist to turnover ratio and 3.5 apg.  Thus far this season he has a 5.0 assist to turnover ratio and is averaging 3.9 apg.  As a scorer Robinson is not much of a threat but he's clearly improved since his freshman season, and there's no reason to believe that he won't continue to do so.  As a freshman Robinson averaged 6.1 ppg, while this season he currently is at 7.6 ppg.  He's also improved his FG% (36.8% to 41.9%), three point FG% (31.3% to 32.0%), and FT% (79.2% to 88.1%). As a rebounder he is solid for his position and could be even better thanks to his solid build. Defensively, he's only gotten about 1.0 spg in his career so far but he is one of the team's best defenders thanks to his brains, positioning, and body. Former top 75 prospect.

Bottom line-  It's safe to say that he'll be a four year starter for the Panthers.  He's not flashy and he will never put up big numbers but he's smart, steady, and solid.

Durand Johnson, RS So.- The 6'6" redshirt sophomore likes to shoot from the outside a lot when he's in the game and that may be part of his problem.  There's no doubt that Johnson can get hot from three and when he does he should ride it. But he's shooting 30.5% from three this season and he's been cold for quite awhile.  In fact, he has been 5-27 from three in his last seven games.  Johnson is not exceptional at rebounding, passing, or defense, so if he's not shooting it's a problem.  And when he does shoot poorly like he's doing now he should take it to the basket more. he doesn't do that often enough but when he does it usually ends up in a basket or a foul.  The fact that he's made 86.4% of his FTs this season is even more reason to take it to the basket more.

Bottom line-  He's basically a designated shooter and if he doesn't shoot well enough he may find himself being passed over by some of the younger guns that are entering the program.

Joseph Uchebo, RS So.- The 6'10" 260 pound center has NBA ability but he also has an injury that may ruin his career.  Coming out of high school Uchebo was in high demand and committed to NC State. But coming from Nigeria his transcripts did not translate and he ended up at Chipola JC in Florida. When healthy Uchebo has a great wingspan, good hands, above average athleticism, good passing slills, some decent low post offensive skills, very good shot blocking, and excellent rebounding.  Like I said, he has NBA potential.  But he's now lost a year and a half due to a micro fracture in his knee, a serious injury that may prevent him from ever playing at a high level again. Former top 100 prospect.

Bottom line- He has been cleared to play, and even that is a bit of a victory, but he has yet to see the court. If he heals completely he could be the inside presence that the Panthers desperately need. At the very least it would be great if he can add some quality minutes at his career.  ALl of that is still up inthe air though.

Sheldon Jeter, RS So.-  The 6'8" 225 pound Jeter, a Beaver Falls, PA native, was not offered by Pitt when he came out of high school even though he was a consensus top 100 prospect.  Eventually Jeter chose Vanderbilt over the likes of Wisconsin and Kansas State.  Jeter did well in his freshman season starting 7 games and playing in all 33 games.  He averaged 5.5 ppg and 3.4 rpg.  He also shot an impressive 47.1% from the field and 39.1% from three.  It's shooting, and more specifically scoring, is Jeter's forte.  He's a very good three point shooter but unlike a lot of very good three point shooters he also can drive (he had some thunderous dunks at Vandy) and has a very good mid-range game.  His long arms and athleticism also makes him a very good rebounder.  Spent time in Florida this year with former Robert Morris coach Matt Furjanic to improve his ball handling and defense. Former top 100 prospect.

Bottom line-  Don't underestimate Jeter. When he transferred he was pursued by the likes of Ohio State and Georgetown. The fact that he was a tweener is why Pitt passed on him the first time but the Panthers are hoping that a year in the SEC and a few months with Furjanic will help his defense and ball handling enough for him to move permanently to SF. That's where the staff wants him and where he's penciled in to start next year. Now he has to prove he can play the position because if he does he has the offensive potential to possibly reach 15 ppg in the future.

Chris Jones, RS Fr.- After a redshirt season the 6'6" Jones has not played much this season but when he has he has shown that he has talent.  He's averaging 6.0 minutes a game this year and is averaging 2.8 ppg. He also has proved to be a good shooter in his limited time making 50% (10-20) of his shots from the field (10-20), and 100% (11-11) from the free throw line. The skill to get to the line 11 times in such a limited time is promising.  Also a good passer.

Bottom line-  Is he one of those players, like a Cameron Wright, that people write off before turning into a very good starter, or will he get passed over by the more heralded prospects coming into the program?

Mike Young, Fr.-  The starter at power forward all season, pretty impressive for a true freshman.  The 6'8" 245 pound Young still gets overpowered at times when in the paint, but that's more about a lack of confidence than size and strength. Averaging 6.5 ppg and 5.1 rpg, as well as shooting 40.6% from the field and 30% from three.  At the line he is shooting an incredible 85.7%.  Former top 100 prospect.

Bottom line- Should be a four starter and will only get better. Look for him to eventually average at least 12 ppg and 8 rpg. He can shoot threes and free throws, pass, run, and rebound, and he should start coming into his own next season.

Josh Newkirk, Fr.- The 6'1" PG has looked good at times but he clearly has a lot of improvement that needs to take place.  In 14.6 minutes a game, he's averaging 3.8 ppg, 1.6 apg, and 42.6% from the field. But he's shooting only 31.6% from three and 12.5% (1-8) from the line.

Bottom line- Lightening quick and he has the potential to be very good on both the offensive and defensive side in the future, but he better be because he has major competition as Robinson's heir apparent.

Jamel Artis, Fr.- The 6'7" forward is the team's most pleasant surprise this season. Averaging 15.5 minutes a game, Artis started slow but now gives great minutes in every game. For the season he's averaging 5.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, while shooting a superb 52.1% from the field. He has also showed a nice touch from three shooting 42.9% (3-7), and 78.3% from the line.

Bottom line- Young is slated to be a four year starter but it won't be by default because Artis is capable of wrestling the job away from him. He may also be able to take the job away from Jeter if he can not handle the three.

Detrick Mostella, 2014- Will he ever make to Pitt? Who knows? I was told for months that he probably won't enroll at Pitt this year and that looks like it will be the case. But Pitt would still love to land him next year and he was placed at Notre Dame Prep so that he would remain with Pitt. Will Mostella still want to come to Pitt knowing they are going to be loaded at his position in the future? Again, time will tell. But the 6'3" Mostella can flat out shoot and he would be a great addition to the Panthers. He really is not adapt at anything but shooting, a lot like Durand Johnson, but he's a better shooter than Johnson. In fact, when he gets on a streak, which he often does, he is unstoppable. Top 75 prospect.

Bottom line- You can never have enough elite shooters and if they can still get him next year the Panthers will take him, but this will be an unknown for awhile yet.

Ryan Luther, 2014- The local product is a versatile 6'8" combo forward that can do a little bit of everything. Has range out to three, is a very good passer, and he can rebound.  Interesting prospect.

Bottom line-  The most interesting thing about Luther is that it's believed that he could grow to 6'10", which all of a sudden makes him very interesting.  A 6'10" combo forward that can do a little bit of everything is a very good weapon so don't underestimate him because he's from the WPIAL.

Shaquille Doorson, 2014- Very tough and strong at a legitimate 6'11" and 265 pounds.  Playing at the prestigious Canarias Basketball Academy though he's from The Netherlands.  Very raw offensively but good defensively and athletic.  His real forte is rebounding where he uses his toughness and nastiness to be a force.

Bottom line- He will have a long way to go to learn how to play offense but as long as he can rebound as well as he should be able to, he will see time on the court. But if Uchebo is healthy next year, Doorson may redshirt.

Damon Wilson, 2015- A long 6'5" PG that may get even taller. Playing at a high level high school program and has been through the wars already. Very good passer who is excellent at directing the offense. Excellent defender and will rebound very well for the position due to his height. Good offensive player who is getting better and better. Quickly rising prospect who is already top 100. If he develops his offensive game a lot he could be ranked even higher.

Bottom line- As of now he may be the heir apparent at PG, but if he keeps growing he may end up moving to SG. But make no mistake about it, he is coming to Pitt so that he can be a PG. Basically a taller, more athletic James Robinson with more offensive skills at the same stage.

Mustapha Heron, 2016- This is the biggie. Heron will be the most well rounded and most talented guard that ever entered the program. A top 15, and maybe future top 10, prospect, the 6'4" Heron has no real weaknesses despite only being a sophomore in high school. At 6'4" he can play either guard spot, can score anywhere on the floor including threes and the free throw line, and can also pass, defend, and rebound at a high degree.

Bottom line- A potential superstar and he has the mature mental makeup to reach the level that he's destined for. He will start immediately, probably at the two. And he could grow a few inches yet.

Maverick Rowan, 2016- Local phenom is already 18 years old and will graduate high school when he is 20, unless he leaves a year early which is possible since Rowan purposely repeated a grade when he was younger. Skinny and has to improve his defense, but he's already 6'6' or 6'7" and can flat out shoot. Top 50 prospect potential.

Bottom line- May keep growing, which would make it interesting if he ends up being a 6'9" sharpshooting small forward. Should start as a small forward early on in his career and as the potential to be a big time college player.

Other possibilities:

Cheick Diallo, 2015- Top 10 power forward who, at 6'9", would play center at Pitt. That may hurt their chances, but he's a teammate of Wilson and the Panthers have been in hot pursuit for at least a year. He came to Pitt's Midnight (kinda) Madness but the Panthers will be a long shot because of the competition.

Caleb Swanigan, 2016- Giant 6'8" 275 pound center from Indiana. He also came to Pitt's Midnight Madness.  Top 50 prospect that's, shall we say, beefy, but he moves well despite his massive girth and has great touch around the rim.  A below the rim player who just carves out space and dares anybody to come into the paint. After Heron committed he tweeted that "everybody loves Slice" so it's safe to say that Pitt has a good chance to land him despite his highly impressive offer list.

Kassoum Yakwe, 2016-  Top 50 small forward, the 6'7" athlete is teammates with Wilson and Diallo, and he was also at Pitt for Midnight Madness.  Raw but crazy athletic. Huge upside. Has many impressive offers already including Pitt.


  1. That depends on how you define a "power"....

    Here's Dixon's next 2 recruiting classes: (yawn) (so far)

    Here's PSU's next class:

    If Dixon is building a power, he's taking his sweet time about it. Here's a power class:

    If loading up on 3 star guys and an occasional 4 star guy....and playing a weak NC schedule is the way to build a power, then doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results in March is no longer the definition of insanity.

    He did hire Slice though....gotta give him credit for that. I see Pitt having similar success in the ACC like they did in the Big East and flaming out in March for the foreseeable future. Hopefully Mustapha Heron stays with Pitt and that class gets to be a great one, but that's 3 years off.....and then they have to develop.

    We have it good...I'm not complaining, but we have to be patient waiting for a real power here at Pitt. Duke & NC look to be tough to beat, except for the fat that NC recruits often jump to the pros early.

    1. And people think Pitt is a basketball school. Exhibit A as to why it's not.

    2. Why? Because of stupid posts from Jackagain?

  2. ACC is down this year.
    Right now, only 2 teams ranked in top 25. Syracuse and Duke.
    Pitt should be in Top 6 ACC teams by end of season even with a relatively new rotation. With Slice tearing it up in recruiting, the future is bright. It also appears Slice is counseling Dixon regarding style of play. It appears to me Dixon is coaching differently than in the last 2 years.

    And how about Suzie on the womens side. She will have a tough time with the ACC schedule but the future is bright there also.
    Now, if we can only make good coaching hires in football, it will be pretty good.

  3. I'd like to see Porter end up at Pitt if Mostella cannot. A sure-fire redshirt type of recruit and the Panthers need as many shooters as possible.

  4. Is Dixon building a powerhouse? Let's hope so.

  5. I share your enthusiasm, but...:

    * VERY hesitant to cede that 3 spot to Jeter, I want to see what Artis does with these next 8 months. Got the passing ability to be lethal, and you posted his shooting stats. Even feel like I'm shortchanging Durand - it is possible.

    * Respectfully disagree about Mostella being just a shooter. Kid is more than competent when going to the rim with the handle & only Wright can hang with him as far as above the rim explosion of what we currently have.

    1. If Durand plays like he did tonight then he may be starting. Any of the three can start. But I think Artis may share the 4 again with Young. But it can go many ways. That's why Dixon recruits versatile players. He wants options.

  6. Young and Artis bulk up… look out.

    Shaquille Doorson… "though he's from The Netherlands". A brother from the Netherlands?? Wow. And I thought he was just another euro-5 who chucks up 3's and forgets how to play defense when it matters.

    1. He's not a European 5. He's very much a Pitt 5. He sits in the paint and beats you to death.

    2. I realize he's not a euro-5 - sarcasm.

  7. Its nice to see Lamar Patterson play now the way I expected him to the past two seasons. Real nice game when he attacks the basket, that runner is tough to stop.

  8. Love the write-up ... JR will be a great stabilizing force for 2 more years but would like to see him score a little more, if for any reason, to keep the D on its toes. A "true" center/big body in the middle would be huge (hopefully that is JU) .. would let MY, JA, CJ step out a little or hang around the rim for clean-up. I like Newkirk .. provides a different look for the D when he spells JR .. CW should be even better next year. Same for DJ. Incoming new guys are what they are .. prospects. Hopefully, lots of upside. Hail to Pitt!

    1. I like JR, but I sure hope he isn't starting for 4 hope is that someone better will beat him out. I don't see much up side with him at all.

    2. Agree Jackagain, JR's is a nice smart kid who doesn't turn the ball over much, but that's mostly because he doesn't do much dribble penetration.
      When the game is on the line, they're having Lamar come out front to control the offense. That speaks volumes about what JR can and can't do. When he does venture into the lane, it's usually time to hold your breath as he doesn't have the hops or moves to do much with it.

    3. Looking at the stat line, I'm surprised JR & CW played 30 min each last night v MD (too much). Durand only 23 min and Newkirk 18min.
      Newkirk is clearly a change of pace PG v JR.

    4. Jackagain & anon ... don't disagree ,, that's why I'd like to see him try to score some more ... not sure if he is just deferring to much to LP and/or others, or, just can't score at will. may not be an issue this year, but once LP and TZ graduate ... who will take the reins ?

    5. Anon 10:12 am .. not sure whether you mean that JR and CW didn't deserve to play 30 min or whether the opponent/game didn't require that they play 30 min. If the latter, it is interesting to look at Syracuse's box score last night .. 20 point win over VT, 72-52 .. score was 60-40 with 6 min left ... Ennis played 36 min, Fair 33, Cooney 31 and Grant 31. At 6:00 min, Pitt was up 66-53 and MD got to within 10 at the 4:50 mark. Cuse had the game much more in hand but played the starters pretty long. If you don't think JR and CW deserved to play 30, well that is another discussion but, I think they were playing good D and it may have been just the flow of the game that dictated minutes late.

  9. Robinson is a very good guard. Great defender. Leads, or just about leads, country in assist to turnover ration. Absolute winner. Yet you see no upside in him. That is astounding.

    1. Nope. He can't penetrate the lane or create for himself and no threat of an outside shooter. As stated above, his assist to turnover ratio may be good because he rarely drives the lane.
      Anony 7:41 and Jackagain has a pretty good analysis of JR as a PG. I don't see why Dixon puts him at SG when Newkirk is running the Point.
      Newkirk has a lot more upside than JR in my opinion.

    2. Robinson leads the country in ball control, he's well above average defensively, and he's shooting 87% from the FT line. He's one of the better PGs in the ACC.

    3. Robinson has 4.1 Assists/game. The 50th ranked person in D1 has 5.2 assists/game. Lamar Patterson has more assists than Robinson as a SF!! A good PG should be averaging at least 5 Assists/game.
      Albeit he is shooting FT's at 87%, he is only getting 3.1 FT attempts/game. If he drove the lane more, perhaps he would get more FT attempts.

    4. Take into consideration that Patterson is essentailly filling the same role for this team as Brad Wannamaker did back in 08-09. If anything, Patterson is finally being more aggressive offensively and scoring this year, he's always been a good passer.

      While Robinson is the greatest offensive threat, he is a stable PG and that's important for how this team's offense is run. Not every kid on the floor is going to be a scoring threat, Pitt has never put a team like that on the court and never will.

      Mike W.

    5. Mike, I looked up Wannamaker.
      Wannamaker filled the void of PG in season of 9/10 and 10/11 when Levance Fields graduated after 08/09 season.
      Brads assists were 4.7 and 5.1 for 9/10 and 10/11 seasons respectively.
      In 08/09, Brad had 3.3 APG and Levance had 7.5 APG and 10.7 PPG.

      Reason Brad had to fillin was because Gibbs was "PG" by title and we all know Gibbs was not a good PG.

    6. You're right, had my years wrong. But if you notice, Patterson is handling the ball and running the offense just as much as JR does.

    7. JR pretty much brings the ball up the court and after his 1st pass after halfcourt, he disappears into the offense. Everyone then looks to Lamar to pass to or run the show. Very similar to Wanamaker.
      JR is ok and clearly better than Gibbs. But I'm excited about Newkirk.

    8. Have to agree. I like both JR and Newkirk, but JR is the type of PG that's great when you have 2-3 established scorers and can handle just runiing the offense and distributing the ball. With this team, you have Patterson as an established scorer, Zanna to a much lesser extent. In that context, you need to have a PG that can create, drive to the rim to get to the line, essentially pose a threat. JR doesn't give you that, Newkirk probably will after this year, which is why you essentially see Patterson running the offense.

      Mike W.

  10. Don't look at Iowa State v Baylor stats.
    Kane had an All-American nite and many national journalists are raving about Kane.
    Kane of Schenley or stones throw away from the Pete who was begging for a scholarship from Pitt out of HS!

  11. As several have stated, JR does what he does very well, but he has limited abilities - quickness and speed. JN still has to prove himself, but he has higher upside because of his quickness and speed.

  12. I don't think there is any question that Newkirk has a great upside. JR is what he is, and what he was as a frosh -- a reliable, tough PG who plays great D and doesn't make mistakes -- nothing wrong with that.

    I personally love the fact that we have both guys, and love even more that Jamie is using them both

  13. Looks like Dixon may be back at his old controlling ways telling players not to shoot, runout the clock, pass pass pass, etc.
    Tweet by Mike Young. Looks like another transfer. Players want to have fun.
    Mike Young ‏@ShowtimeDeuce 7h

    I'm better than I ever was but treated as if I never was 🎧

    Mike Young ‏@ShowtimeDeuce 19h

    Never been told not to shoot the ball til I got here #SMH

    1. The team is 14-1. How can Young not be having fun? He will be a key offensive guy next season, but not in 2013-14. It's Patterson and Zanna's show this season.

    2. If he is being told not to shoot, he is not having fun.
      I can see him going to PSU to team up with his HS/AAU buddy from Shaler.
      I don't get why you say it's Patterson & Zanna show this season because they are seniors. That is the same sentiment some had last year regarding Woodall or Gibbs the year before that. Just plain dumb.

    3. I think there's a difference between being told not to shoot and taking open shots that created within offensive sets. I can't see Dixon telling any kid that if you have an open, good look to not shoot the ball. Young is a freshman and is used to being the man, regardless of whether he has an open shot or not.

      Given how games are officiated now, you don't want a freshman playing out of control and spending a lot minutes on the bench. That more than anything is what this has to do with Young.

      Mike W.

    4. Sounds like he's never been properly coached before this year. Oh well… he'll learn - otherwise there's another guy just as good on the roster.

  14. Great article regarding transfers.
    Here is an eyepopping stat, 40% of incoming freshman will transfer at some point.

  15. Doke, off topic but what do you think about Rotheram making the ESPN's All ACC Bowl Team when he was sitting at home and watching like the rest of us?

  16. Don't look now, my biggest fear. Franklin to PSU.
    Pitt could have had Franklin instead of Hayward.
    Franklin will get the elite out of MD, NJ, PA. Just look at his 3 coordinators resume and where they are from. Curious to see if he makes a move to get Engram to join the staff.

  17. Well, I'm done here.

    If Joe D is still allowed to post his trouble-stirring garbage (the Mike Young tweet), while my post calling him out for it gets blocked, that tells me all I need to know.

    Bye bye.

  18. Just so people know, any posts that mention Joe Dumbass gets automatically deleted. You guys wanted him out of here so you can't keep encouraging him.

    Yes I know that he is so demented that he can't stop posting here anonymously but when I can tell it's him I block him. I'm sure he gets through sometimes when I can't tell for sure it's him but I can just delete everybody who may be him or I may be deleting somebody that's not him. So people are just going to have to live with that.

  19. Hi Chris,

    So, which of the following two choices is true, in your opinion?

    1. Pitt is a "football school" that simply currently isn't great at football; or,
    2. Pitt is a "basketball school."

    I'd also like to see your rationale behind your choice.

    I lean slightly to Choice 1, but frankly the upward trend is toward Choice 2. When the hoops team stinks, I never see anybody wonder when football starts, but the opposite is definitely true.

    If it's Choice 1, I'd sure like to see the administration start making decisions to justify it: For starters, choose proven coaches. Let's choose proven head coaches as our head coach (rather then promoting the hot unproven coordinator, which chiff at a higher rate), and then have that coach choose proven assistant coaches. Pitt hires as if it was a MAC school (no disrespect to the MAC): on hope that the unproven proves them right.

    1. Almost every school in a BCS conference is a football school, including Pitt. The only ones off the top of my head that aren't are Duke, Kansas, and Indiana.

    2. Chris - you can add Kentucky.

    3. If your list is complete (not sure it is...), then I'd add UCLA, Arizona, Colorado and Wazzu, Vandy, North Carolina & NC State, Maryland and Wake Forest, Iowa State, among others, who might be basketball schools secretly masquerading as football schools who currently aren't great in football.

    4. Kentucky and UNC are basketball schools. The rest are football schools.


  20. Another question... "Will Penn State be building a power under James Franklin?"

    Truth be told... and as painful as it is to admit for a devoted Pitt Alum... the answer is likely "Yes."

    Prior to Franklin emerging as the front runner for the Penn State job, it was my position that whoever the choice was, if the "right guy" were chosen... the football program would be much better off in the long run than ever would have been the case with Bill O'Brien.

    With the decision now confirmed, it looks as though Franklin may indeed be that right guy, maybe even the perfect choice.

    In his three years at Vanderbilt, Franklin has shown himself to be a PROVEN COMMODITY both as a Head Coach and Recruiter.

    But, maybe even more importantly, Franklin is a DYNAMIC personality who appears to be PEOPLE SMART.

    These attributes will undoubtedly pay dividends going forward, not just when it comes to returning Penn State to prominence in the Football World... but also in adeptly dealing with the uniquely complicated forces at play in the once Happy Valley.